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Why have we changed to compostable courier bags?

As you know from media reports soft plastic bags are sitting in storage containers around the country after numerous processors it was shipped to stopped accepting New Zealand’s plastic. This decision will be reviewed in April 2020. This is a global trend occurring now. There were no other options for end of life use for its courier bags so Safety & Apparel decided to implement change. This is also in line with our Enviromark Diamond Certification.

How long will they take to compost in the compost pile?

Under the AS4736‐2006 certification (commercial) AS5810‐2010 (home) and EN13432‐2000 the compostable bags are required to meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum biodegradation of 90% of the bioplastic/materials within 180 days of compost.
  • Minimum of 90% of the bioplastic/materials should disintegrate into less than 2mm pieces in compost within 12 weeks.
  • No toxic effect of the resulting compost on plants and earthworms. hazardous substances such as heavy metals should not be present above the allowed levels.

That means that 90 percent or more of the “bioplastic” material will have been converted to carbon dioxide. The remaining share is converted into water and biomass, which no longer contains any plastic.

The timeframes in which the bags will breakdown is dependent on many factors such as moisture and constant temperature - this is more variable in a home composting situation versus a commercial facility.

Recycling and Landfill

Landfill is not a recommended end‐of‐life for compostable product, however, there is some science to suggest they will biodegrade faster than other plastics including oxo‐degradable.

Plastic in the environment doesn't decompose it just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces with the same chemical structure. These microplastics are a problem because they're near impossible to clean up and are eaten by marine life.

Compostable products have an edge when it comes to curbing this ocean plastic. In a study from the University of Plymouth, compostable bags dissolved in marine water within three months. So, while they might not be the perfect answer for all of our environmental impacts they are perhaps are less harmful to marine organisms.

Safety and Apparel Ltd are currently investigating an option for a program where compostable bags can be returned and composted through us.

Stay tuned!